(773) 714-8080

Direct Service — Overview

The Retirement Research Foundation awards Direct Service Grants for projects that:

  • Increase the availability and effectiveness of comprehensive community programs designed to maintain older persons in their homes
  • Provide supportive services to older persons in residential settings, such as congregate living facilities, group homes, and assisted living facilities
  • Improve the quality of nursing home care
  • Coordinate the provision of acute- and long-term care for older persons with chronic conditions by supporting efforts that provide continuity of care, prevention, early intervention, and client education
  • Provide new and expanded opportunities for older adults to engage in meaningful roles in society such as employment and volunteerism

Direct Service — Eligibility

Direct Service Grants are provided to nonprofit organizations that are:

  • Tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code; OR non-profit organizations that are not required to have a 501(c)(3) designation, such as state-funded universities
  • Located in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Wisconsin, or Florida
  • Looking to develop, test, and implement direct service programs or expand existing programs that have a significant focus on older adults, ages 65 and above


RRF does not fund:

  • Conferences or fundraising events
  • Endowments or capital expenses
  • General operating support
  • Governmental agencies, except for state universities, area agencies on aging, and programs of the Veterans Administration

First Step – A Letter of Inquiry

The Retirement Research Foundation acknowledges the time and effort needed to submit a proposal and invites interested applicants to submit a brief Letter of Inquiry (LOI).

This step is optional, but offers valuable one-time feedback as you prepare a full proposal.

The LOI should be emailed to as a Word or PDF attachment. Kindly use a 12 point Arial font. Please submit LOIs according to these deadlines:

Submit LOI by:           For the Following Proposal Deadline:
December 1                  February 1
March 15                       May 1
June 15                         August 1

When a deadline falls on a weekend or federal holiday, the due date is moved to 5 p.m. CST the following work day.

Include the following information in your three-page Letter of Inquiry:

  • Timeframe
  • Estimated project cost, amount of funding already secured (if applicable), and amount requested from RRF
  • Brief outline or description of the project and what you intend to accomplish
  • Target population and geographic area for your project
  • Brief statement of need
  • Proposed objectives and outcomes
  • Principal proposed activities
  • Evaluation criteria and methods
  • In addition, identify which of RRF’s priority areas your project addresses (if any). Select only the primary area. If your project does not address a priority area, indicate why your project presents a promising opportunity to improve the quality of life of older people.

Additional search words for this web page:

letter of intent

Direct Service — Apply

For applicants from universities or hospital organizations, please note that RRF prefers that the applicant is the university or the hospital, rather than a foundation affiliated with the university or hospital.  If you have questions about this, please contact RRF directly before you submit your application.

RRF requests that all proposals include the following components as outlined in 1-4.  After you have completed the online application form, you will be asked to upload each of these documents as individual Microsoft or PDF files.  Kindly use a 12 point Arial font. Budgets are to be uploaded as Microsoft Excel files. Please note that, except for the Executive Summary and Bios/Resumes, there is no page or length restriction.

  1. The Executive Summary is a separate two-to three-page summary that concisely describes the project. The Executive Summary offers a succinct overview of your project and allows RRF to better understand what you are trying to accomplish. Include brief information about the project’s need, objectives, methods, total project cost, and amount requested from RRF.
  2. The Proposal Narrative provides an opportunity for you to describe your project thoroughly to RRF by addressing the following:
    • Applicant Organization – Include a brief history of your organization, recent accomplishments, and the organization’s qualifications to lead this project.
    • Project Significance
      • Importance and relevance of the proposed project
      • Background information on the issue(s) to be addressed
      • Literature review that highlights existing knowledge in the field and/or how the project will address gaps
      • Anticipated contribution of the project
    • SMART Objectives
    • Proposed Methods
      • Strategies and methods your organization will use
      • Target audience(s)
      • Change(s) to be effected
      • Resources and method of delivery
    • Evaluation – Please describe:
      • Methods that will be used to measure progress toward objectives
      • Type of data that will be collected
      • Methods that will be used to analyze the data
      • To obtain more information about evaluation, please see our evaluation guidelines
    • Dissemination
      • While Direct Service Grants do not require a dissemination section, you may include information about how and with whom you will share the results of your project, if applicable.
    • Plans for Continued Support
      • Describe plans for continued support if the project is expected to operate beyond the period for which grant funds are requested.
    • Personnel
      • Describe the key personnel and their qualifications to lead this effort.
  3. The Budget, Budget Narrative, and Timeline will be uploaded as three individual Microsoft Office or PDF documents. While RRF does not require a standard form for these documents, samples are provided for illustrative purposes.  You may use more than one page for each document.
    • The Line Item Budget includes all expenses and income, including grant funds requested from RRF and funds received and/or requested from other sources for this project, if any.  Please include the percentage of time allocated for project staff.  Up to 10 percent of the budget may be requested from RRF for indirect project costs. See RRF’s Budget Sample.
    • The Budget Narrative describes how the budget relates to the proposed project activities. Budget narratives generally contain a description for each line item identified in the budget. See RRF’s Budget Narrative Sample.
    • The Timeline corresponds directly to the activities that are described in the proposal. See RRF’s Timeline Sample.
  4. In addition to the documents listed above, you will also be asked to upload:
    • The Signature Page to provide proof of who in your organization has authorized this project
    • Bios or resumes of no more than 2-3 pages for the Project Director and other key project staff. Upload in one file.
    • Current Board of Directors roster with affiliations. Upload in one file.
    • Signed letters of support, if appropriate. Upload in one file.
    • Letters of Commitment from collaborators, if applicable. Upload in one file.
    • IRS 501(c)(3) designation letter or other evidence of federal non-profit status
    • Most recent audited financial report (preferred) or IRS 990
    • Most recent annual report (an optional item)

The Foundation has an online application form to guide organizations in preparing and presenting their proposals.


A. How To Create An RRF Online Application Account And Obtain a New Application Form:

  1. Using the Print function in your Internet Browser, print these instructions for reference.
  2. CAUTION: You should use either Internet Explorer or Firefox as your Internet Browser to minimize issues while working in your online application account.  Google’s Chrome will not work properly with RRF’s online application form.
  3. Click on this button:  
  4. CAUTION: Only click on this button ONCE to create your RRF Online Application Account and obtain an application form for your first online Responsive Grant Proposal submission to RRF.
    Clicking on this button more than once will result in multiple blank application forms, which may cause confusion.
    NOTE: In the future when you are ready to submit another proposal, return to this web page and use this button again to log back into your account to obtain and start a new application.
  5. The Please Sign In screen from the Retirement Research Foundation will display.  The first time you apply, you will need to click on the New Applicant? button located below the E-mail field to create your account.
    New Applicant Button Image
  6. The New Applicant? screen will then display.  Enter your email address and create your password according to the instructions on the screen.  Then click on the Continue button at the bottom of the screen to finish creation of your account.
  7. A blank online application form will display.  You may now start filling in the application form.  Once you finish a section of the form, click on the Next button displayed at the bottom of the screen to begin the next section of the form.  If you need to stop working on the form, click on the Save & Finish Later button, so that you can return to the application at a later date. We recommend saving your application regularly (every thirty minutes) to avoid timeout errors.
    Save And Finish Later Button Image
  8. A screen listing your application form will display.  Notice that your application form will have a unique five-digit ID number.  You will enter that ID number in your application form where indicated.  Also, make note of that number, because it may be useful when corresponding with RRF after submission of your application.

B. Tips For Continuing To Work On An RRF Responsive Proposal Online Application Form:

(Please note that the software program will purge unfinished applications following 120 days of inactivity.)

  1. To continue working on an RRF online application form, click on this button:
  2. NOTE: If you save the following web address to your Favorites in your Internet Browser, you can use it to continue filling in your application; then you will not have to return to the RRF website to access your application.
  3. The Please Sign In screen will appear.  To log into your account, type in the email address and password that you used to create your account and then click on the Login button.
    Login Button in the Please Sign Screen
  4. Upon opening your online application account, you will see a listing of your online application forms that are in progress.  To open the application form that you are currently working on, click on the listing with its five-digit ID number.
  5. If you have multiple application forms listed, please delete each blank, unneeded form by clicking on the garbage can icon displayed to the right of the application form’s listing in your online account.  Deleting these unnecessary application forms will help avoid confusion about which application you are working on.
  6. If you need help, please contact The Retirement Research Foundation at 773-714-8080 or via this email address:


Direct Service — Reporting Requirements

The due dates for all grant reports are listed on page four of the RRF Grant Award Letters sent to applicants who are awarded grants.

The need for both interim reports and a final report is up to the RRF Program Officer assigned to a grant.  Therefore, interim reports may be required for some grants, but not for others.

Grantees will submit their reports electronically via the applicable report form(s) uploaded into the grantees’ RRF Online Applications and Requirements accounts soon after grants are awarded.  Grantees will receive an email notifying them when the applicable report form(s) have been uploaded into their account.  In addition, they will receive instructions about how to access the forms via an RRF Online Applications and Requirements Account.

Documents describing the information to be included in the grant report(s) may be accessed via the links below:

Interim Reporting Requirements For RRF Grantees

Final Reporting Requirements For RRF Grantees